CAPRE Exclusive | The Cloud On-Ramp Game: What Challenges Are End-Users Encountering Along the Journey to Cloud?

BOSTON, MA – CAPRE’s Data Center Summits are all about connections – both figuratively and literally. That’s why panel discussions about cloud on-ramps and connectivity have become a staple of CAPRE’s events. CAPRE’s Third Annual Greater Boston Data Center & Cloud Infrastructure Summit was the latest iteration of that panel, and it kicked off with an evergreen question that goes beyond the Cloud on-ramp crowd’s day to day. John Fidler, Manager and Solutions Engineer at INAP asked one of his panelists (and a co-worker) to discuss an evergreen, but ever-changing, question: “What have you seen in terms of challenges with getting to the Cloud? When people come to you, what seems to be the challenge that they’re facing and how are each of you addressing that challenge?”

“A lot of people are not ready from a virtualization perspective. Their apps are not really set up that way. They’re not born that way. So they are challenged with that,” replied Dan Gauvin, Senior Director, INAP, first to offer a response to the question among the three-member panel. “I think there’s definitely a shift that wants to take place in addition to just transforming technologies. That’s really not the driver. The driver is looking to reduce their day to day operations burden. They want to eliminate things that are not germane to the things they’re trying to accomplish in their core business.”

“So they’re looking to not only transform technology but outsource the management of the services. some of that is letting go of that, and so the comfort factor is part of the issue. Being able to walk before you run and turn over your entire infrastructure to somebody else. So we’re starting to see people that dabble a little bit with outsourcing things, but not completely giving it up,” continued Gauvin. “We’re able to do that in the managed hosting environments where we can do co-management. They still have access to things that they want to maintain access to but start over time to let us take over and manage the infrastructure of theirs. I think that the other thing that comes into play for the non-technology companies that we’re doing business with, the ones that are really and truly looking to get out of the business of doing it themselves, there is typically an integrator, a managed service provider, an ASP that comes into the fold. ”

“I see more and more of our opportunities being things where we’re going to be building strategic partnerships. And we already have the beginnings of many of those with our partners that are able to provide higher levels of service all the way at the application staff of a client,” Gauvin concluded.

Next, Fidler looked to another panelist for input on a relevant follow-up question. “When it comes to getting on that on-ramp, the conversation about, I need to make a connection to one of the hyperscalers. or both hyperscale providers. What are the challenges that are coming with to you? And how many of those things are you addressing and what do you need the customer to figure out?” he asked to Brian Kern, Regional Vice President at TierPoint.

“It’s not all that different from the conversations we’ve been having for many years about connecting one location to another. They’re looking for low latency, reliability, and diversity. we’re talking with customers about the physical routes from our data center to Azure, and ensuring that we can provide them with physically redundant routes in case one goes down, multiple different carriers, in case they have a billing issue that gets them shut off, and different technologies, whether that’s MPLS or SD-WAN or fiber” replied Kern.

Brian Kern, Regional Vice President, Tierpoint

In other words, the conversations aren’t all that different. “The conversations we’ve been having for the last 20 years about connecting different locations to different destinations and having different options. The thing we bring to the table on top of that portfolio of options, is that by having a large network of data centers in different geographies connected to one another, we can route traffic from our data centers, to another, or to the hyperscalers, or to another cloud platform,” he shared.

According to Kern, this  opens up a lot of options for customers who might be operating their infrastructure on a multi-cloud fashion, which most of them are. “They might own gear that’s colocated in two of our data centers, connect those to a hosted private cloud that we’re providing for them, in each of those sites or other sites,” he ventured. “And then have each of them connected to each other with redundant paths, some from our backbone and some from other carriers, and then connections from there over public internet or MPLS or SD-WAN or maybe even the direct connects or express routes.”

“That’s a lot, conceded Kern. “But it’s what our customers are doing and it’s what they’re looking for. they want options. They want us to not only provide the options, but consult with them to help them choose the right ones, to ensure that they’re getting the most bang for their buck, and then delivering for whatever business drivers for the project.”

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